The past year was an exciting time for Hearthstone. Players were introduced to three new expansions: The Witchwood, The Boomsday Project, and Rastakhan’s Rumble.
Each of these sets brought something different to the table that changed how the game is played in a major way. The Witchwood expansion introduced players to new card effects in the form of Echo and Rush. The Boomsday Project did the same by unveiling the Magnetic keyword, allowing players to fuse their minions for additional buffs. Rastakhan’s Rumble came late in the year, but it brought with it the Overkill mechanic, allowing players to get more value out of removal type cards if they kill a minion and have excess damage left over.
Needless to say, 2018 changed the landscape of Hearthstone in a big way. This leaves players curious as to what the next year might be like for Blizzard’s spell-slinging card game. Rastakhan’s Rumble has already had a major impact on the meta, particularly after Blizzard pushed through balance changes in the weeks following its release.
Anyone playing competitive ladder right now probably isn’t having much fun unless they’re using Hunter or Paladin. They’re the strongest in the game, while other classes like Druid, Mage, and Warrior have been rendered borderline useless. While it’s clearly not Blizzard’s intention for the meta to shape up the way it has, many players are already sick and tired of the two class dominance. The official Hearthstone Reddit is regularly plastered with “Huntstone” memes, implying that the game is just Hunter vs. Hunter, and for good reason. Hunter has over a 70-percent frequency rate in competitive play right now, according to HSReplay.
Many players hope the current meta is merely a symptom of the impending standard rotation. In April, Un’goro, Knights of the Frozen Throne, and Kobolds and Catacombs will all be rotating out of standard play. This means the game will be losing a majority of the cards that make up the decks in the current meta. Losing Knights of the Frozen Throne alone would be enough to drastically change the meta, since this means that the Death Knight Hero cards from the expansion that are in nearly every deck will no longer be available for play.
Many players feel that the reason why the meta is in such a stale place right now is because Blizzard is hesitant to make more major changes before these expansions rotate out in April. The hope within most of the community seems to be that whatever expansion Blizzard decides to release in April will change the meta in such a way that underpowered classes will once again be viable.
Regardless of what the new expansion brings with it, it’s certain to shake things up. Since so many of the Hero cards, like Frost Lich Jaina, are rotating out of standard, there’s speculation that the first new expansion of 2019 will bring more Hero cards with it. This theory is supported by the fact that Hunter just got a new Hero card in the form of Zul’jin through the Rastakhan’s Rumble expansion.
Since Hero cards bring so much value and tempo swing potential to the game, it would be unfair to let Hunter (which is already dominating) be one of the only classes to have that type of card as an option. If Blizzard decides not to produce anymore Hero cards in the upcoming expansion after the standard rotation, Hunter will probably still be dominating the meta well into the summer.
No matter what happens in April, Blizzard is sure to surprise players with something exciting in the new expansion. Rastakhan’s Rumble may have the meta sitting in a strange place right now, but many of the legendaries that came with the expansion could be incredibly dominant if they were given proper support. And if that support comes in the next expansion, 2019 is sure to be an exciting year for Hearthstone.